An expat’s witty, insightful exploration of English and American cultural differences through the lens of language.
A lifelong Anglophile, Erin Moore was born and raised in Florida, where the sun shines and the tea is always iced. But by the time she fulfilled her dream of moving to London, she had vacationed in the UK, worked as an editor with British authors, and married into an English American family. The last thing she was expecting was a crash course in culture shock, as she figured out (hilariously, painfully) just how different England and America really are. And the first thing she learned was to take nothing for granted, even the language these two countries supposedly share.
In That’s Not English, the seemingly superficial variations between British and American vocabulary open the door to a deeper exploration of historical and cultural differences. Each chapter begins with a single word and takes the reader on a wide-ranging expedition, drawing on diverse and unexpected sources. In Quite, Moore examines the tension between English reserve and American enthusiasm. In Gobsmacked, she reveals the pervasive influence of the English on American media; in Moreish, she compares snacking habits. In Mufti, she considers clothes; in Pull, her theme is dating and sex; Cheers is about drinking; and Knackered addresses parenthood.
Moore shares the lessons she’s had to learn the hard way, and uncovers some surprising and controversial truths: for example, the “stiff upper lip” for which the English are known, was an American invention; while tipping, which Americans have raised to a high art, was not. American readers will find out why bloody is far more vulgar than they think, what the English mean when they say “proper,” and why it is better to be bright than clever. English readers will discover that not all Americans are Yankees, and why Americans give—and take—so many bloody compliments, and never, ever say shall. (Well, hardly ever.)
That’s Not English is a transatlantic survival guide, and a love letter to two countries that owe each other more than they would like to admit.
Praise for That's Not English:
“As many of us know, straddling the Atlantic can be quite uncomfortable—and it doesn’t help that the word ‘quite’ doesn’t always mean what you think it means. This is a brilliant guide to the revealing differences between two branches of English from a writer who is funny, smart, and almost worryingly observant. I was charmed from first to last. As an English person I will say, ‘Oh, jolly well done,’ but I’d like to add: ‘Good job!’”
--From the Foreword by Lynne Truss, author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves
“I’m mad about this book! I don’t mean ‘angry’ in the American sense, but Britishly ‘enthusiastic, gobsmacked.’ Much has been written about the language barrier between Britspeak Americanspeak, but, more than any other explorer, Erin Moore puts a human face on the subject.”
--Richard Lederer, author of Anguished English
“The ocean that divides England and America is awash with linguistic wreckage and cultural tumult. But Erin Moore’s study of these infested waters is serene, assured and hugely entertaining. They should hand her book out at border control.”
--Simon Garfield, author of the New York Times bestseller Just My Type
"That's Not English is fun, insightful and surprising. In it, Erin Moore reveals that what matters most about language isn’t necessarily what we say, but rather what we mean—and what others hear. This book is about much more than the quirks of our uncommon language; it’s about the nuances of culture and the unspoken assumptions that give words meaning."
--John Pollack, author of The Pun Also Rises and Shortcut
“Erin Moore writes about language with authority and humor, giving us etymologies, back-formations, and portmanteaus with equal aplomb. But her title is a nice bit of wordplay: That’s Not English isn’t really about words at all—it’s about the subtle differences between the two countries she calls home.”
--Constance Hale, author of Sin and Syntax and Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch
"Moore's unvarnished enthusiasm for the language makes for an enjoyable read."
“Moore manages to create a text that is eminently readable, clever (in the sincerely-intended American sense) and thought-provoking, gently breaking down some of the cultural stereotyping that plagues both Americans and British.”
“An author who grew up in Florida and now lives in London debuts with a breezy, and sometimes-irreverent, disquisition on the significance of certain slang locutions on both sides of the pond.... her brisk, self-effacing style is appealing.”
"clever, witty and thoroughly engaging"
--The Daily Mail
"informative, personal and, at times, funny... Indeed, the word I would use to describe this book is 'Charming'..."
Order That's Not English in the UK (now in paperback from Vintage):